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STAR WARS: LEGION

Reviewed by Andrea “Liga” Ligabue

STAR WARS: LEGION (Fantasy Flight Games, 2 players, ages 14 and up, 120 minutes; Core Set $89.95)

 

The Star Wars Universe has been the ideal place for a lot of good boardgames starting from the all galaxy strategic scale, like in Star Wars: Rebellion, (featured in the Fall 2017 Gamers Alliance Report) down to fighter to fighter scale like in X-Wings. With Imperial Assault, FFG started to explore the possibility of bringing the battle to a tactical scale involving only a few heroes and a small amount of troops. The skirmish rules were quite good and fun to play but still tied to maps and boards. With Runewars, for the first time FFG finally entered the miniature market: no board, just armies to assemble and paint. It was only a matter of time before the Star Wars universe got its miniature game. Star Wars: Legion is a skirmish miniature games designed by Alex Davy involving few heroes (usually one or two) leading squads of soldiers supported by a few vehicles.

Every player assembles his armies using a simple point-based system with a few restrictions: 1-2 commanders, 3 to 6 corps – the main part of the army – up to three special forces, up to three support units and up to two heavy units.

Every commander and units have an associated card showing abilities and cost. The units can be upgraded using trooper cards and weapon upgrades. The last part of the building procedure is to choose six command cards to use in the game. There are standard command cards and special cards you can include if your army has a particular commander.

In the starting box, you have only two commanders (Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader) and just six command cards for each faction.

Before starting battles, you need to assemble the battlefield and choose the scenario using battle cards: objectives, conditions and deployment. The battles could be different according to the many possibilities offered by the battle cards and the scenario construction: you can have a fight in an almost open area or have to find the way in an area full of buildings offering great coverage. After the deployment of the units the battle can start.

Every round has three different phases: command, action and end phase.

In the command phase, players will issue orders to the troops. First, players decide the command card they want to play. Choosing the right command card is important. Every command card can have some special effect and shows the number of units(your commander and usually 1 to 3 units) you can activate.  Command cards also determine which player will be the first in the activation phase. According to your position and situation you might decide going first is important: sometimes you need to save an exposed unit or just give the final blow to an enemy one before it rushes for cover. Of course, command cards with good initiative have usually no correlated power and can activate less units. Once played, you can’t use that card until you have played all your command cards.

During the activation phase, players alternate activating units. You can decide to activate an ordered unit or draw randomly from the not activated units. The effect of this rule, one of the greatest ideas in Legion, is to create a sort of “chaos in the battlefield”. You know you will activate all your units but you will NOT know in which order. 

An activated unit can perform two different actions chosen from move, attack, aim, dodge, standby, recover or card action. The only exception to this rule is that you can make two movement actions and any number of free actions. Corps units are the bulk of your army but support and heavy units can make the difference. Also, the leaders are, like in Star Wars movies, real heroes, able to turn the tide on the battlefield. Of course, every unit has varying abilities including how far it can move. For movement purposes, you will use special movement tools showing distance and turning possibilities.

Weapons have ranges, from 1 to 4. Attacking other units will be resolved using 8-side dice. The number and the color of the die changes according to the weapon used and they will change in the distribution of miss, normal hits and critical hits. The defender will throw a 6-sided dice for each trying to prevent damage. The color of the defense die will affect the distribution of normal and critical hits defenses as well. Enough damage will remove miniatures from the unit. There are two type of results in the attack die: normal hits (that can be prevented by dodge and covers) and critical hits (that can’t be stopped). Of course, there are a lot of tactical situations that can change results. Units are also affected my morale.

In Legion, Alex Davy has been able to make a deep strategic game relatively simple: small differences in the number or type of dice or special abilities could be critical in some situations. Cohesion and cover, usually something to be worried about in miniature games, works well: you just move the unit’s leader with the movement tool and then just move all the other miniatures in the unit as you want as long they are in cohesion with the leader (no more than speed-1 distance). There are just two types of cover: light, that can prevent a normal hit, and heavy, that can prevent two normal hits. Checking cover is easy. You trace a line from the unit leader to the opponent’s miniatures and, if at least half of the miniatures are obscured, the unit has cover. Of course you can expand your armies with new units and leaders offering you many more possibilities to customize your army before the next battle.

With Star Wars: Legion,  Fantasy Flight Games has made an important step into miniature territory … and it is a good step! – – – Andrea “Liga” Ligabue


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